Goji Protein Balls

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I was going to be picking up my nephew from kindy, and I was looking forward to it. He goes to the same primary school I went to, which I remember with fondness as I had spent a good 6 years of my childhood there. My brother told me that when his grandmother picks him up from school, they have a little ritual where she gets a donut for him. This aunt didn’t want to be outdone, so I racked my brains for what treat I could bring for him. It was hard, as adult paleo foods (liver, grass fed jerky etc.) don’t seem to hold much appeal for kids for some odd reason. But I eventually came up with an idea which I thought would work. My nephew is fascinated with spiders and stick insects, so I thought of making spiders out of protein balls and making the legs out of a paleo cracker recipe I found on the web. Using the rest of the dough, I would pipe irregular blobby sticks to become stick insects.

Things didn’t start off too well. The balls themselves tasted great but when I tried to insert the legs into the spider body, the balls fell apart, so I had to attach the legs with melted white chocolate. The stick insects didn’t look like much, but I bargained on the power of imagination to fill in the gaps.

After all that, it was time to leave and join the throng of parents collecting their spawn. We had a fun walk home, with the promise of ‘spiders’when we got back. Alas, my attempts at marketing to children didn’t go down well; my nephew found the prospect of eating spiders and stick insects repulsive and refused to have a taste. Not to mention that there was also a tube of Pringles being offered, my little protein bliss balls were no competition for the bliss point engineered by Big Food. So we ate the protein balls ourselves, and they proved to be very sustaining as we chased our nephews in the park and played at being zombies.

Goji Protein Balls

Makes 16-18

  • 1 cup of nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia etc.)
  • 4 dates, pitted, finely chopped
  • 4 prunes, pitted, finely chopped (if you don’t have prunes, omit and use 6 dates in total)
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries
  • 1 cup of shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp Mayvers Hazelnut & Cacao Spread
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil, cocoa butter or ghee, melted (+ 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp honey (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp protein powder (I used whey isolate)
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Water, to bind, as necessary
  1. Process the nuts until a meal forms. Use whatever nuts you have on hand or takes your fancy. I used the Omniblend and it was very quick, only took a couple of seconds. Be careful not to overprocess them otherwise you will have nut butter.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients up to and including the protein powder, add a teaspoon of water and process until combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  3. Add the pumpkin seeds and process briefly, to break them up a bit without pulverising them. This is because I wanted to be able to see the pumpkin seeds in the balls, but if you don’t mind, you can process it with the other ingredients.
  4. Tip the contents out into a bowl and squish a little bit together with your fingers to test whether the mixture is moist enough to form balls. If the mixture separates easily, add a little water sparingly until the mixture is sticky enough to form balls. Form into balls, pressing the mixture together firmly in bite-sized portions. Can be eaten immediately or refrigerate for a firmer ball.

Optional: Drizzle balls with melted dark chocolate.

Rainbow Trout & Prawns in a Coconut Cream, Chilli & Lime Bisque

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Occasionally something will happen which makes me realise how extremely unfit I am for a life in the wild. Not too long ago, I was bushwalking in the National Park and took a wrong turn, which ended up in us still being out in the bush well after sunset without food, shelter or a torch. What started out as a jaunty rumble in the forest looked like turning into a forced overnight stay with only leeches for company, and we started staking out possible sites for shelter. The main thing keeping me going, trying to find my way out, was that I didn’t want to become one of those bushwalkers who appear on the nightly news, walking sheepishly out of the park after being rescued by emergency services. In the park, I thought about what I would do for food, and wondered what my ancestors would have done. If it came down to hunting or gathering, I fall firmly in the gathering camp, and if I were forced to hunt, I think I’d prefer to try my hand at fishing rather than killing mammals.

For years, the only way I cooked fish was how I remembered it from my childhood: whole, steamed (though I cooked it en papillote in the microwave), with ginger, shallot and soy sauce. Lately I’ve been experimenting with different ways of cooking fish and this recipe is a keeper. First you make a quick creamy, zesty broth infused with Thai flavours. This stage can be done the day before, for an even quicker weekday dinner. Then just add the seafood and simmer until just cooked. I keep an eagle-eye on it as it is cooking as I don’t fancy overcooked seafood, and keeping the heat low will help.

Any type of fish would work in this recipe – salmon, monkfish, barra would all be perfect. However if your fillets are thick, cut into 1-1.5cm thick pieces so that they will cook in around the same time as the prawns.

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Rainbow Trout & Prawns in a Coconut Cream, Chilli & Lime Bisque

Serves 2

  • 2 rainbow trout fillets, de-boned (around 130g each)
  • 8 raw prawns, peeled and deveined (keep the heads)
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red chilli (bullet), de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 7cm length of lemongrass, smashed (optional)
  • 200ml coconut cream (coconut milk would work too)
  • Zest and juice from half a lime
  • 100ml chicken or fish stock
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chopped coriander

Method

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. I find that adding a tablespoon of water at the beginning helps the onions to soften without burning.
  2. Add garlic, coconut cream, stock, chilli, lemongrass, fish sauce and prawn heads. Simmer for 6-8 minutes to allow the flavours to meld and infuse, and to reduce a little. The bisque will turn a pretty pale coral colour from the prawn heads. Add the trout, prawns and lime zest and simmer for several minutes until the seafood is cooked. Remove the prawn heads and discard.
  3. Garnish with the chopped coriander.

Potatoes rejoin the paleo fold

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The latest news in the paleo world is that white potatoes are now permitted under The Whole30. (The Whole30 is basically a 30 day introduction to paleo in the form of an elimination diet, and represents a type of strict paleo which excludes, among other things, all dairy, sweeteners, paleo treats and paleo-ised versions of junk food.)

For the white potato to be welcomed back into the Whole30 fold represents an official stamp of approval (well, as official as you can get in the paleosphere) for the beloved spud, which many primal followers were eating anyway, and is confirmation that the nutrient-dense tuber can be a healthy part of your diet (provided you are not intolerant of nightshades). The proviso is that white potatoes in the form of chips/fries or deep-fried are not permitted under the Whole30.

One food which is unlikely to ever make it on the Whole30-approved list is pasta. Many paleo recipe writers extol the delights of a vegetable known as ‘spaghetti squash’ which is reputed to be as, or more, delicious than the real thing (if you can believe it). Unfortunately this mystical vegetable is rarely seen in Australia so I’ve yet to try it. I suspect that it is as similar to real spaghetti as cauliflower rice is to real rice. However, I have tried another paleo substitute for pasta which is quite delightful and very similar to the real thing: sweet potato noodles or regular potato noodles. They are made with either sweet potato starch or potato starch, and are therefore suitable for those eating gluten-free. Available from asian grocers, they may also be labelled ‘sweet potato vermicelli’. On account of their high carbohydrate count, potato noodles would make a good post-workout or Carb Nite meal. They have a neutral taste rather like real pasta, and cook up nicely al dente.

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The method for cooking potato noodles is similar to that of regular pasta. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add some salt to the water, add the noodles and turn the heat down to a simmer. The amount of time you need to simmer the noodles will vary according to their thickness, but I have found somewhere between 7-9 minutes works a treat.

We enjoy these noodles with a number of accoutrements, including chinese BBQ pork, preserved vegetables, sesame seeds, seaweed, scallions, paleo XO sauce & a drizzle of soy sauce. I have also tried using sweet potato noodles in Italian recipes such as carbonara and it worked very well. Since going paleo, I have fallen out of the habit of eating high carb meals regularly but it is good to have an option for when the pasta craving strikes.

For mushroom lovers

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Introducing a new dish which subscribers may find in our 10 and 15 meal packs in the coming week: Chinese Braised Chicken & Mixed Mushrooms. Tender skinless chicken thigh morsels are slowly braised together with a mushroom medley (shiitake, king, oyster mushrooms and strips of black fungus) in a velvety sauce of soy, coconut aminos, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.

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It pairs nicely with steamed white rice &/or roast cauliflower. To roast cauliflower, wash and cut into florets. Place on a baking tray greased with oil (I love to use Cobram Estate’s garlic-infused extra virgin) and bake for around 20 minutes, turning once, until somewhat singed and caramelised.

Nutritional Information

Per 380g serve
387 calories
51.4 grams protein, 7.9g carbs, 14.8g fats

Ingredients

Skinless chicken thighs, mushrooms (king, shiitake, oyster, black fungus), onions, chinese cabbage (wombok), chicken stock, ginger, garlic, gluten-free soy sauce, coconut aminos, sherry, sesame oil, tapioca starch, salt, ghee, pepper.